Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: Saturday Night’s Main Event XVII – 10/29/88

*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV and TV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***


Saturday Night’s Main Event XVII – 10/29/88

October 29, 1988
Baltimore Arena
Baltimore, MD
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura

1) Jake Roberts defeats Rick Rude by disqualification at 7:22

Fun Fact: This feud started over six months ago. On the 4/23 episode of Superstars, Rick Rude approached a woman at ringside to give her a Rude Awakening kiss, something he had begun doing following his victories. This time, however, the woman rejected Rude’s advances. The woman was Cheryl Roberts, wife of Jake Roberts. She proceeded to slap Rude in the face and Rude countered by grabbing her arm. Jake ran from the locker room area to make the save and the two brawled to the back. Rude began wearing tights with Cheryl’s face on the crotch, which enraged Jake. In the early fall, Cheryl would begin appearing in Jake’s corner during matches with Rude so she could slap him after her husband won. On the 9/10 episode of Superstars, Rude wore the tights with Cheryl’s face again. This time, Jake came to the ring, beat up Rude and ripped his tights off. The broadcast showed a black “censored” circle over Rude so as not to give the home audience a rude awakening. This match at SNME would be the culmination of their feud.

Scott: We open the new season with a match that’s been months in the making. Rick Rude went after Jake Roberts’ wife back in April and they’ve been going back and forth ever since. Before this feud started Rude and Roberts met in the WrestleMania IV Title tournament and it ended in a draw. They had separate matches at SummerSlam (which still makes no sense to me) and now here on NBC the feud may finally come to an end as Cheryl seconds Jake to the ring. Of course looking back you can easily think that Cheryl would turn heel and join Rude. That seemed to always work with Jake, as his psychology always brought sympathy with the fans. This match is a long time coming and it was very back and forth with neither guy really getting a big advantage. At one point Cheryl slaps Rude in the face and the referee sends her to the back. The match continues to go back and forth until Jake hits a DDT out of nowhere. However instead of going for the pin Jake tries to rip Rude’s tights off with Cheryl’s face on it. Bobby Heenan comes in to cause the DQ, and then down the aisle comes Andre the Giant to protect his fellow Family member Rick Rude. Then we get the transfer from one Heenan member to another, as Jake brings Damien into the ring and Andre is petrified. This is where I started to hate Andre as a heel and the way they booked him. Andre was always the Eighth Wonder of the World and the BOSS. A storyline where he’s afraid of snakes is utterly stupid. The match here was fun and it’s fine to transfer to another feud but being afraid of Damien doesn’t work for me in Andre’s case. This feud moves along and we will see how the Heenan Family counters it. Grade: **

JT: We are back after our summer vacation, set for another full season of Saturday Night’s Main Event and the roster overhaul continues to change the landscape of the company. The landscape of America was also changing, as this show was just a week or so before the Presidential Election that saw George Bush take the top seat in the land. As a result, we even get a Dan Quayle joke from Jesse Ventura. We then get clips of the build for this heated feud, which was ignited when Rick Rude inadvertently hit on Jake Roberts’ wife Cheryl and then started trolling Roberts about how he would steal her away at some point. Roberts was a mad man and it was great to see the Snake in a deep, hot feud after meandering around for a while. Rude was at his smarmy best throughout all this, laying the sleaze on thick as he tried to romance Cheryl away. Many were surprised that they didn’t square off at SummerSlam, but instead the feud was kept burning on the circuit until they clashed here. Jesse was on fire here, calling Cheryl “Robin Givens”, which was probably a more accurate comparison than he realized at the time. The two wasted no time tangling up as the bell sounded with Jake landing a big knee and peppering Rude with a couple of punches. He continued to rattle the Ravishing One but Rude slipped to the floor to block an early DDT attempt. Rude tried to settle things down and work the arm before hitting a clothesline. Rude kept levying punches, working aggressively, possibly remembering their WrestleMania draw in the back of his mind, but also taking time to taunt Cheryl at ringside. He would shoot the Snake in hard to the corner and then started to target the lower back as a follow up. However, Cheryl would catch his eye again, allowing Jake to pelt Rude with a clothesline and then drag him to the ropes so Cheryl could smack him across the grill. The crowd like that one. Jesse didn’t.

After a break, the two men tussled on the floor, where Rude posted Roberts hard twice to slow his roll. Back inside, Jake battled back again as the crowd heated up but Rude cut him short and hit a fist off the top for a near fall. Jake would block the Rude Awakening and hit a DDT but instead of covering, he tried to rip off Rude’s tights (which were airbrushed with Cheryl’s face). That drew Bobby Heenan in for the DQ and he was followed by Andre the Giant, who quickly punished Roberts. As Andre and Heenan tended to Rude, Roberts returned with Damien, which spooked the Giant, who begged off and looked quite scared as Jake stalked him with it. He eventually tossed Damien onto the neck of Andre, who flipped out, grabbed his chest and fell to the mat writhing in pain. I don’t know how I feel about any of this. The match was just OK and while it had some good heat, it never really kicked into the next gear and the DQ ending was a flat way to end the feud. The Roberts/Andre feud starting out of the finish made sense but Jake comes across like a pretty rotten heel by letting Damien slither around Andre as he was apparently having a heart attack. He should have maybe pulled him off and showed a little remorse, instead it came off as mean. Also, where the hell were the doctors and officials while Heenan tried to revive poor Andre? The crowd liked it all but looking back everything came off a little flat and then mean spirited by a top face. Grade: **

2) Demolition defeats Hart Foundation to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Smash pinned Jim Neidhart after using Jimmy Hart’s megaphone at 5:58

Fun Fact: The spring and summer of 1988 saw two allegiance changes in the tag team division. In May, the Hart Foundation began having issues with their manager Jimmy Hart before finally break ties with him and turning babyface. In early July, the Rougeaus turned heel on the Killer Bees during a televised match. Hart, looking for a new tag team, signed the Rougeaus and gave them each 25% of the Hart Foundation contract, which he still owned. This would spark the feud between the teams that would last into 1989.

Fun Fact II: On the 8/13 episode of Superstars, Jimmy Hart announced an alliance between him, Mr. Fuji and Demolition and that he would appear in their corner at the inaugural SummerSlam event. Demolition defeated the Hart Foundation at SummerSlam ‘88 when Ax hit Bret with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. This encounter at SNME is a rematch from that event.

Scott: Time for a SummerSlam rematch between the current champions and the former champions, with the lynch pin being Jimmy Hart stealing the Pink and Black secrets and selling them to Demolition, but really it’s for his new team the Rougeau Brothers. They battled at MSG back in August and the Demos kept the straps and now the Harts get one more title shot here. The tag division is getting bigger and bigger and within the next month two more teams join the fray and really amp up the division with talent top to bottom. You will start seeing more seasoned teams like the British Bulldogs and the Killer Bees take a back seat to some of the newer teams in the promotion that will be showcased next month at Survivor Series. The Harts fought very hard here because they will be shunted down the ladder if they don’t win the titles. This was the time where discussion in the Apter Mags started about the WWF creating a second set of tag team titles because of so much talent. That will be an ongoing discussion for the next several months. In any event, back to the match. The Hart Foundation was in control until the aforementioned Rougeaus came out and thanks to referee distraction, the megaphone was in Smash’s hand and he smacked Neidhart in the back with it. Demolition gets the win and the Pink and Black will get kicked back in the line. The Demos were getting a smattering of face chants during this match. Think they switch? Hmmmm. The match was fun and the best from the tag division is yet to come. Grade: **

JT: Our SummerSlam tag title rematch is up next and this storyline was a really good one. Jimmy Hart sold out his longtime pals the Hart Foundation and gave a portion of their contracts to the Rougeau Brothers. However, because he still owned a piece of the Harts’ contracts, he was free to be at ringside during their matches. In addition to that, he was hired by Mr. Fuji as a special advisor to Demolition in their title tilts with Hart & Neidhart. Deep, good stuff and it paid off in a really fun match back in MSG that saw Jimmy aid the champs in retaining. I liked the Harts face turn as some balance was needed and they really ran their course as the douchebag heel kingpins. Anvil and Ax traded heavy blows to start things off but the champs double teamed their way into control pretty quickly. Neidhart blocked a suplex and tagged out to the Hitman, who used his speed to overwhelm Smash, drilling him with a second rope elbow before Smash just cracked him with a quick clothesline. The champs went back to double teams and quick tags as they wore down the Hitman, grinding him with their power and angry offense. Demolition has been around a while now but they have really built up a nice presence and legitimacy in fairly short order. As soon as they won the belts they felt like they belonged at the top and that is on display here. Hart would duck a clothesline and hit one of his own before tagging out to the Anvil who just mauled both champs to the shock of the Body. Anvil hit a powerslam and covered by Ax made the save. Things broke down with all four brawling around the ring. As the referee totally lost control, Hart popped Fuji and then the Anvil dragged Jimmy into the ring. However, as this was going on, the Rougeaus made their way down the aisle and charged the ring. Jacques would toss Smash the megaphone and he proceeded to bop Anvil with it for the win. The Harts are screwed again and the storyline continues on. With the Foundation set to move into a feud with the Rougeaus, Demolition would move on to search for new contenders. The match was fine, a step or two behind SummerSlam, but it got the point across fine. Grade: **

3) Hulk Hogan defeats King Haku with a legdrop at 6:16

Fun Fact: At SNME XV, Harley Race suffered a legit injury during the match with Hulk Hogan. While taking time off for surgery and to heal, Bobby Heenan began searching for a new king of wrestling. On the 7/9 episode of Superstars, a coronation ceremony was held to crown King Haku as the successor to Race.

Scott: The Hulkster makes his SNME return after taking the last episode off to film No Holds Barred. In that time he returned to help Randy Savage and the Megapowers got the win at SummerSlam over the Megabucks. Now Hogan takes on the new King of the WWF, Haku. When Harley Race got hurt they transferred the gimmick to another Heenan Family member. Elizabeth is now managing both Savage and Hogan but when they came down the aisle Jesse started insinuating that something salacious was going on between Hogan and Liz behind Randy’s back. All the way back in October the accusations and statements started coming out. Haku was always a solid worker and he and Hogan actually work a pretty solid match. At one point Haku is pitched outside and Hogan put the crown on, and he looked like a total doofus. I was hoping at the time this wasn’t going to create a King Hulk Hogan. A red and yellow crown? Hogan gets the win with his usual boot and leg drop combo but there’s no King transfer. Jesse is so bitter, saying things like “Look at that ego, it’s never looked better!” I treasure the shows on which he does commentary. Jesse didn’t belabor the Elizabeth point, but just enough to sneak the point in, like when Hogan lifted Elizabeth on his shoulders. The match is solid enough but Jesse starts planting the seed. Grade: **

JT: When Harley Race went down to a serious injury after his tussle with Hulk Hogan, Bobby Heenan decided to award the crown to another stable member, the former Islander Haku. It was a shrewd move because Haku had a lot of in ring talent but was pretty bland and wasn’t a great talker. Giving him the hook of being the king and letting Bobby do the talking brought him up a notch for sure. And that is clear here since he is given a big SNME bout with Hulk Hogan, who’s returning to Saturday Nights after skipping the last outing. It was weird not seeing him back in April and felt right to have him in the mix here. To offset Heenan, Hogan has Miss Elizabeth with him in his corner. Of course, since our last show, the Mega Powers have officially formed and Liz would manage both Hogan and Randy Savage. Although Jesse seems to disagree and thinks something fishy is up as Liz is rarely anywhere without Savage. Haku started off hot, landing kicks and strikes as he pummeled the surprised Hulkster. Hogan survived a kick to the body and then punched and chopped away before landing a clothesline. Heenan would run some interference, allowing Haku to nail Hulk and take back over. Haku utilized his array of kicks and chops, eventually knocking Hogan to the floor but messing up on a leaping chop from the apron when Hogan pulled Heenan into his path. While Haku consoled his manager, Hogan pranced around in his crown to the roar of the crowd. Heenan was brought to the back during a break and when we returned Haku mowed Hogan with a clothesline and dropped a headbutt on him. Haku certainly works a pretty basic offense but everything he does looks so believable. Hogan would hulk up after a suplex, hammer Haku with punches and drop the leg for the win. This was just another decent match in a series of them tonight, with all having been very paint-by-numbers thus far. Grade: **

4) Dino Bravo defeats Ken Patera with a side suplex at 3:03

Fun Fact: Ken Patera and Dino Bravo had been feuding off and on since April, including numerous competitions of strength, such as arm wrestling matches and a tug of war. This would be the final singles match in their long-standing feud.

Scott: Well at least we have my PIC’s favorite manager in this match. Patera is hanging by a thread in this company as his usefulness ended a while ago. Dino Bravo has been moving up the heel ladder after the infamous bench press at the Royal Rumble back in January. The match isn’t much of anything and Bravo wins with his side suplex. Frenchy Martin went from being a Prime Time jobber to a manager, although I never thought Bravo really needed a second but I guess it fits anyway. Let’s move on. Grade: 1/2*

JT: After the Dream Team crumbled at the end of 1987, Dino Bravo has struck out on his own into the midcard, having hired on useless manager Frenchy Martin. This feud has been raging on for quite a while as the two powerhouses battled over both who was stronger and for the respect and honor of their countries. Bravo wanted Patera to pledge allegiance to Quebec but Patera promised to…stamp his passport? Poor Kenny. He also cut his afro back a bit here and looks even more like your haggard chain smoking, bridge playing aunt than he did before. Patera clubbed away to open up the match, eventually knowing Bravo to the floor. Dino came in with some fire, landing a boot to the gut and then punching away. Patera reversed the tide and landed punches of his own, but Bravo would land a boot to the face on a charge and then hit the side suplex for the win. If you love punching, this is the match for you! Bravo rolls on and Patera is on his last legs as any sort of believable threat. Grade: 1/2*

5) Big Boss Man defeats Jim Powers with the Boss Man Slam at 2:34

Scott:W e wrap the show up with a character building squash for Slick’s newest guy the Big Boss Man. Early Big Boss Man was so fat but I guess it fit the character at this point. I’m somewhat surprised to see Jim Powers here, and he even got his own graphic. I guess Koko B. Ware wanted the night off. Big Boss Man has already started the feud with Hulk Hogan that would lead into Survivor Series. Boss Man wins with ease and then as he had been doing since his arrival, he handcuffs Powers to the rope and gives him the business with the nightstick, like he did to Hogan on the Brother Love show. The match was nothing but it served its purpose: Big Boss Man is about dishing out justice. Grade: DUD

JT: Slick’s newest monster heel, the Big Boss Man, is on display here with a quick squash match against now jobber Jim Powers. Boss Man had beaten up Koko B. Ware back at SummerSlam and was quickly moving up the card and being prepped for a main event run that had just gotten underway when he beat up Hulk Hogan on the Brother Love Show. It was a good spot for Slick too, who was building cache as a manager and climbing the ladder in those ranks. The Young Stallions were pretty much cooked by this point so Powers and Roma were working job duty as needed, using their names to help establish others. Powers tried for a quick sleeper but that was fruitless as Boss Man squished him in the corner and took it from there. Powers would get a quick flurry in late, but Boss Man cut him down with the Boss Man Slam for the easy victory. Boss Man cuffed and beat down Powers after, building up some more heat to end the night. Grade: DUD

Final Analysis

Scott: A standard episode of SNME, although I’m a little bummed they didn’t get back into the theme spirit with a Halloween motif. Perhaps Vince thought the shows were important enough they could stand on their own. Still, it would have been cool to see costumes and such. The matches were a little better than last episode with a couple of squashes at the end. Hulk Hogan makes his return after a one show absence and has Elizabeth next to him as WWF Champion Randy Savage has the show off. Jesse plants that seed here and it slowly sprouts throughout the next few months. Demolition established themselves as the top tag team in the division but will get plenty of competition as new teams come through soon and by 1989 the WWF has perhaps its best year in the tag team division. The show is pretty standard, nothing bad but nothing extraordinary. Final Grade: C+

JT: We kick off the new season with our second straight subpar installment of SNME. Their were some pretty big matches on the docket here but none of them ever really clicked and got to the next level. Everything was just decent up to the squashes at the end. We did get a nice dose of storyline development with the snake incident and the Hart Foundation’s war with Jimmy Hart raging on, but outside of that there wasn’t much here. It was also interesting that Randy Savage wasn’t utilized here. Perhaps a World Title match picks the card up a bit. Hopefully we get back on track soon because this show was on a nice little streak until slowing up after WrestleMania. Final Grade: C